Over the history of humankind, there have always been inventions designed to help those who can not walk.
In the grand scheme of things, these devices are considered wheelchairs, but they are not usually what most people think of as a wheelchair.
Instead, the hollow tubbed metal frame with its vinyl seats that most people first think of when considering a wheelchair is a new invention that has been around for less than 100 years.
Today, there are countless models and brands of wheelchairs, enough that it can almost be overwhelming when trying to shop for a wheelchair, but they all share a very similar design.
This is not only true of most manual wheelchairs but also electric wheelchairs.
Basic Manual Wheelchair Design
Most self-propelled manual wheelchairs have two larger rear wheels.
The rear wheels have another smaller rim attached to the outside of the wheel, which allows the user to spin the wheel without touching the parts that make contact with the ground.
Most manual wheelchairs also have a set of push handles attached to the frame of the wheelchair, which allows it to be pushed easily.
Transfer wheelchairs, which are not designed to be self-propelled, do not usually have handrails on the rear wheel, and instead, the rear wheels are only slightly larger than the front wheels.
The Folding Wheelchair Frame
The typical manual wheelchair is also designed to be folded when not in use, which allows it to be placed in the rear of a car without the need for vehicle wheelchair use.
This also makes them well suited for traveling. The frame of the wheelchair is made out of hollow tubes of metal, with steel being the most common type, which is very sturdy and lightweight.
Other metals are also sometimes used, but they tend to be more expensive, with the main advantage of these alternate metals being their lightweight.
Many sports wheelchairs will make use of a non-steel metal.
Differences Between Manual and Electric Wheelchairs
While electric wheelchairs no longer use a very similar design to a manual wheelchair, they do all standard design.
Most consist of a small plastic base, which houses the electric motor, rechargeable batteries, axles, and other electrical components.
The chair is attached to the base of the wheelchair, and armrest controls are usually attached using a simple joystick control scheme.
This allows the wheelchair to be controlled by simply pushing the joystick in the desired direction.
The joystick can be configured for either right-hand or left-hand use by simply changing which side of the armrest it is attached to.
Many people can not use the standard wheelchair control, so there are many alternative wheelchair controls available.
This includes wheelchairs controlled by head movements, the users’ breath, and even by remote control.
In electric wheelchairs, they can usually travel between 4 and 8 miles per charge, although this varies depending on the user’s weight and the type of terrain the wheelchair is driven over.
For instance, driving an electric wheelchair up a hill repeatedly will wear it down faster than if it were driven across flat ground.